The year is 2238. Due to people inconsistently following public health guidelines — much like a tuberculosis patient electing not to finish their antibiotics routine in full — the coronavirus pandemic persists.
Afraid of repaying the student loans from my original undergraduate degree, I have become an eternal student. Existing in a synthesized body, I have been able to remain an employee of The Daily Evergreen while seeking degree number 54.
As a result of the continuing pandemic, WSU instituted a hybrid learning situation for those wishing to return to the normalcy of the otherwise forgotten old world.
Whether a class is in person or online is determined by a roulette. Students may be on campus for all classes, no classes or anything in between. Some classes taken online are scheduled back-to-back with classes taken at home.
Jaro Codyx, sophomore cybernetic biology major, removed his mask from the sterilizer while preparing for his singular in-person class.
“I really don’t mind the mix,” Codyx said. “The in-person classes give me a break from hanging out in my room. The online ones give me a break from having to look at everyone’s faces.”
With the press of a few buttons, Codyx typed the address of the campus building he needed to go to into his apartment’s TELMS (Teleportation via Molecular Separation) Device. We stepped in, let the system scan our irises, and within moments exited via the TELMS device nearest to that portion of campus.
“If not for TELMS and all, it might be pretty inconvenient,” Codyx said he shrugged as he glanced over at the remains of the clocktower, only the original uppermost third of the tower having survived over time meant it was now suspended in the air, an echo of an age past. “But the world is at our fingertips. We can go anywhere in an instant.”
If you can afford it, that is. Proper compatibility with TELMS requires a biometric software installation that costs now what it used to cost someone to buy a luxury sports car. Students with TELMS access are either those with wealthy families or whose notable results in testing afforded them aid to ensure their intellectual or physical gifts were developed fully.
The rest of humanity consists of people nicknamed the “averages” or those who have fallen so far beneath the societal radar that they may as well not exist. Carline Catalea, sophomore robo-ethics major, considers herself to be one such average.
“The hybrid system sucks,” Catalea complained. “If you can’t afford TELMS then it doesn’t really make sense, since you either have to stay or campus all the time or space out your classes so you have enough time to commute.”
Just as not everyone could afford cars and parking permits back in 2021, not everyone can afford TELMS software compatibility either.
“I either have to walk or take the bus. Walking is almost a safer bet, you know? And nobody walks these days. It’s just, buses that never come on time and the schedules are hard to read. I don’t even live near a bus stop,” Catalea said.
It’s very safe to say the bus systems haven’t changed too much over the past 217 years.
“If everything was distance, it would be fine. I could just stay home. If everything was in-person, it would make sense too because I have to spend so much time on campus anyway since going back and forth all the time is impossible for me,” she said.
It reminded me of my first few years of my college education at WSU before the pandemic.
“You were around back when it all began, right? What was the system like then?” Catalea said turned the questions on me, and everything went black.
When I came to, I was sitting at my desk in my Pullman apartment. Just a regular laptop in front of me, a mom-type van parked in my usual spot, still using an ethernet cable to combat my poor internet and slightly bitter about having to buy an adapter to be able to plug headphones into my phone.
As it stands, the fall semester seems to have a goal of establishing a hybrid schedule. As much as I enjoy online classes, I just don’t want hybrid classes. I fork over enough money to this school as is, I don’t want to pay for parking to get to class or hope for the best with bus schedules.
For me, the most irritating situation I can imagine is not staying completely online, but rather having to keep track of what days I have in-person classes and what days I don’t or figuring out how I plan to get to and from campus.
A hybrid learning situation may sound fine to some people, but to me, it sounds like a nightmare. Pick one or the other, WSU, and stick to it, please. If we go for in-person and then come crawling back to Zoom because “Oops, we weren’t ready” or “Oops, people can’t follow rules,” I will be a bit more than fed up.